METROPOLIS — Without question, Darius Beane is the Carbondale Terriers’ big dog.
But three of the young puppies are developing more bite to their game.
That was obvious Friday night when Beane led and sophomores Clayton Greer, James Baltz and Davaris Macklin chipped in with a spate of key plays as Carbondale advanced to the finals of the 35th Superman Classic with a clinical 59-41 drilling of Paducah Tilghman.
The Terriers (16-4) took the lead late in the first period against the top-seeded Blue Tornado (14-4) and never looked back. They led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter, canning better than 65 percent of their shots from the field.
Beane scored a game-high 19 points in another solid performance. Senior Zanidrelle Johnson added 10, including an impressive driving dunk along the right baseline in the fourth quarter.
Baltz, Greer and Macklin combined for 28 points, going 13-of-21 from the floor and converting consistently when Tilghman forced Beane to give up the ball.
“He’s developing a lot of trust in his teammates,” Carbondale coach Jim Miller said of Beane, “and they’re earning trust by finishing plays. It’s nice to see these kids growing up before your eyes. They’re building confidence.”
This was a chicken-egg deal on this night. To build confidence, you have to be able to get stops and then score. The Blue Tornado led 9-4, and then they came to a grinding halt. With the Terriers mixing man and 2-3 zone defense, Tilghman looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in 10 days.
The lead grew from 17-12 after a quarter to 34-18 at the half and reached 21 when Beane converted a runner midway through the third quarter. The Blue Tornado wanted to press, but making just 15-of-43 shots kept it from getting into any kind of rhythm.
Prior to Friday night, no team had held Tilghman under 59 points. Only five had held it under 70 points. It never managed more than 12 in a quarter against an opponent with good athletes and excellent structure.
“Let’s just praise the effort on the defensive end,” Miller said. “To keep a high-powered team like that from reaching their average, it speaks well to the kids’ ability to listen and make adjustments during the course of the game.”
Rodriguez Thomas and Jerome Reed each scored 11 to pace the Blue Tornado. But that wasn’t nearly enough to match Beane – or the sophomores who are making the future look about as bright as the Terriers’ present.
“Looks good for the future,” Miller grinned.